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    TV: McCall expects toughest test

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    Second Hutchinson bid refused

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    Inverness Mag available now

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    International call for ‘Well duo

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    TV: Johansson confirmed as U20s coach

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    TV: Highlights from Levante

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    TV: McCall pleased despite defeat

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    Levante defeat in pictures

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    Levante 1 – 0 Motherwell

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    TV: McCall cautiously optimistic

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    TV: McCall expects toughest test

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall says he expects Sunday’s clash with Inverness Caley to be the toughest domestic fixture of the season so far.

    Terry Butcher’s men have been free-scoring form this season and would come into the match unbeaten but for a 4-2 reverse against Champions Celtic last weekend.

    They banished that from the memory with a fine midweek win over Arbroath at Gayfield to progress to the third round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

    McCall is sure his side will face a tough afternoon against the Highlanders who have scored twice in all of their three away matches this campaign.

    [pullquote]They’ve had five games this season and in four of them they have scored twice so although they have lost Johnny Hayes and Grégory Tadé they have added a few players that have given them a cutting edge.[/pullquote]

    He told MFC TV: “We’re looking forward to getting back to league action and we want to go into the International break on the back of a good result but I think this will be our most difficult game of the season.

    “If you look at their away games this season they have done ever so well. I watched their game against Hearts when they went down to ten men and came back and showed great character, work ethic and good football.

    “They’ve had five games this season and in four of them they have scored twice so although they have lost Johnny Hayes and Grégory Tadé they have added a few players that have given them a cutting edge.

    “Terry has changed the team, especially the defensive side of it. They’re a big physical side but they can play so I think it will be a big test for us.”


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    Second Hutchinson bid refused

    Motherwell Chief Executive Leeann Dempster has revealed a bid for young star Shaun Hutchinson was once again refused yesterday.

    The offer of £200,000 plus add-ons, although slightly higher than the bid received a few weeks ago, still falls way below the clubs’ valuation of a player who aged just 21, has played 75 times for the first-team, including a Scottish Cup Final appearance, the UEFA Champions League and five in the UEFA Europa League

    Leeann told motherwellfc.co.uk: “Although we are not in the business of holding back our talent, we have a valuation of all our players and the enquiry we received yesterday was still way below what we would expect for a player like Shaun Hutchinson.

    “We wouldn’t name any club who enquire about our players out of respect but Shaun, in our eyes, is close to being a one-million pound player so any offer would need to be in that region. He is gaining experience every week and has played and shone at the very top level.

    [pullquote]We wouldn’t name any club who enquire about our players out of respect but Shaun, in our eyes, is close to being a one-million pound player so any offer would need to be in that region.[/pullquote]

    “The firming up of the television deal means that whilst we are working well with our fans to plug the hole left by the changes in Scottish football, we are not in a position where we need to sell our talent for less than what they are worth.

    “The same is true of Nicky Law – we knocked back a £100,000 bid early in the transfer window as there is no way we would contemplate letting a player of Nicky’s quality leave for such a paltry figure.

    “We were also keen to expand on our squad towards the end of the window; the board having made funds available to the manager to bring in a player or two. But we applaud Stuart McCall’s stance of not filling up the team with players just to take a jersey.

    “It is true that we were very keen to bring Ryan Stevenson to the club but we are not able to compete with Hearts in terms of the emotional pull they have with the player. We wish the player all the best and move on.”

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    Inverness Mag available now

    The 64-page Steelmen Matchday Magazine returns against Inverness CT jammed pack full of features you mustn’t miss.

    After a busy month, including trips to Greece and Spain, ‘Steelmen’ is back to its best with tomorrow’s edition perhaps the top domestic production of the season so far from the club.

    But what can fans expect from the fifth magazine of the campaign?

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall and captain Keith Lasley both return with the regular columns and both talk about bouncing back from Thursday’s defeat in Valencia and the positive impact our European games will have on the club.

    Capital City Press’ Alan Temple returns to ‘Well proggy duty and has an outstanding interview with youngster Adam Cummins who tells an emotional story of personal tragedy and disappointment turning to triumph and celebration.

    And that’s not where the features stop!

    There is a 13-page section dedicated to our visitors, Terry Butcher’s Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

    Kris Jack goes through four players to watch from our Highland opponents, as we as a player-by-player breakdown of their squad.

    Former Caley defender Richard Hastings is the man in the spotlight in our opposition Q&A and fan Chris Lindsay gives his few on how the Jags are progressing. We also have a scout report from Caley’s last SPL match when Celtic ran out 4-2 winners in the Highlands last weekend.

    ICT ProggyThe features and big names keep coming…

    In our Interview Alumni section, Andy Ross caught up with former ‘Well striker Lukas Jutkiewicz who is hoping to return to action for Middlesbrough this weekend after a summer of injury hell.

    Lukas recalls his time at Fir Park and what it did for his career and goes over ‘that’ goal against Hibs that will live long in the memory of every ‘Well fan.

    The Press Association’s Gavin McCafferty returns with his ‘From the Press Box’ feature and looks at Scottish clubs’ performance in Europe from a realistic point of view. A second new feature is a column from Press & Media Manager who adds his thoughts in ‘The Last Word’ near the back of the publication.

    Nicky Law is the latest to give his top five’s in the iPlayer feature and Jonathan Page tells us his ‘First and Last’.
    In the third of our new features, Chris Humphrey is the first player involved in the ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ where he goes through his best gear and where he picked it up.

    Graham Barnstaple’s Cult Heroes this week focuses on Aussie striker Scott McDonald who will be forever remembered for his exploits on 22nd May 2005 in a certain final day of the season match at a full-to-the-rafter Fir Park. I’m sure you remember…?

    But wait, there’s more! We take a look back at last weekend’s 1-1 draw with St Mirren at Fir Park, 10 tough questions in our Quiz, the latest news section as well as an in-depth statistical look at referee Stevie O’Reilly. We have the latest from The Ticket Office and the Commercial Department and the latest stats, facts and figures for the already busy 2012/2013 campaign.

    The programme is available for £3 and is currently on sale from the Club Shop as well as the usual sellers located in and around the ground pre-match.

    You can also order back editions or take a season-long subscription to the magazine by visiting the website of our publishers – Curtis-Sports – http://www.curtis-sport.com/

  • Archive

    International call for ‘Well duo

    Motherwell received good news at the beginning of the week as Darren Randolph and Zaine Francis-Angol were both called up to represent their country.

    Darren will form part of the Ireland squad for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifier versus Kazakhstan at Astana Arena, Kazakhstan on Friday, 7th September 2012 and the International Friendly versus Oman at Craven Cottage, London on Tuesday, 11th September 2012.

    The former Charlton stopper has been involved in a number of International matches but has yet to win his first full cap.

    Zaine has his first call-up for Antigua and Barbuda’s FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifiers against Guatemala on both the 7th and 11th of September. Although London-born, Francis-Angol qualifies to play for the Caribbean islands through his mother who was born there.

    The left-back was initially called up to play in the International U20 World Cup Qualification games against Curacao, Granada and Grenada on the 8th,  10th and 12th August but was allowed to miss them to take part in Motherwell’s first ever Champions League game in Greece against Panathinaikos.

  • Archive

    TV: Johansson confirmed as U20s coach

    Motherwell FC can today confirm the appointment of former Finland International Jonatan Johansson as the new Under 20s coach.

    Johansson, capped 106 times by his country, will be remembered by most Scottish football fans for his three-year spell at Rangers between 1997 and 2000.

    He left Scotland to join the then English Premiership side Charlton Athletic for 3.75 million where he would play 150+ games over a six-year spell. He also spent a short time with both Hibernian and St Johnstone as his career was coming to an end.

    He returned to Finland in 2010 where he rejoined his first club, TPS Turku, doubling up with coaching of the clubs’ young talent before finally hanging up his boots in March 2011.

    [pullquote]It is a great challenge for me as a new coach to join a club like Motherwell who regularly play in European competition; one of the top teams in Scotland.[/pullquote]

    He came back to Scotland where he was doing some youth coaching at Greenock Morton before replacing Gordon Young at Motherwell, who was appointed the clubs’ Academy Director some weeks ago.

    Speaking exclusively to MFC TV, Johansson said: “It is a great challenge for me as a new coach to join a club like Motherwell who regularly play in European competition; one of the top teams in Scotland.

    “We have always been known and have a reputation for producing good young players. You need only look at the first-team just now which is full of talented youngsters that have come through our system.

    “It’s my job here at the club to make sure the progress of the 17, 18 and 19 year-olds are ready for the first-team

    “I am also really looking forward to working with Stuart McCall, Kenny Black and Gordon Marshall; all experienced coached who have been involved at the top level. I knew Stuart a little bit from before so it is great to finally get to work with him.”

    Jonatan’s first game in charge of his new side will be this Tuesday night, as the Steelmen U20s take on Hibs at Fir Park (7pm KO).


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    TV: Highlights from Levante

    Extended highlights from the Ciutat de València as Motherwell battle bravely but lose 1-0 to La Liga side Levante.


  • Archive

    TV: McCall pleased despite defeat

    Steelmen boss Stuart McCall was proud of his players despite defeat to Levante and elimination from the Europa League.

    A very young ‘Well took it to their La Liga opponents, creating a handful of chances throughout a very decent first-half showing.

    Levante upped the ante and got themselves in front through Greek International Theofanis Gakis before holding out for the 1-0 win, sending them into the group stages of the competition.

    Far from being downbeat, McCall was pleased with how his young side went about their business and challenged them to take the experience into the domestic campaign.

    “I’m really pleased with our performance but disappointed with the result,” McCall admitted.

    “I know in the second half we’ve had two or three chances but at the end we should have scored.

    “Their main strength is their defence and organisation. They are very hard to breakdown.

    “I’ve seen them four times this year even the other night when they lost two goals they were both dubious penalty kicks. It was always going to be difficult to create against them but the other side I thought the effort and endeavor and, at times, the play was terrific.”


  • Archive

    Levante defeat in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-0 defeat by Levante U.D. in the Europa League Play-Off, Second Leg at Ciutat de València.

    [svgallery name=”levante300812″]

  • Archive

    Levante 1 – 0 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

     Alan Burrows at Ciutat de València

    A brave Motherwell side bowed out of Europa League with their heads held high despite a 1-0 defeat to Levante at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.

    The Steelmen thought they had taken an early lead when Michael Higdon’s early header flashed past Navas in the home goal but it was ruled out for offside.

    Jonathan Page, Stevie Hammell and Keith Lasley all had first-half chances but couldn’t force Stuart McCall’s men in front.

    The home side went up a gear or two after the half-time interval and only super saves from Darren Randolph denied Juanlu and Nabil El Zhar.

    After ‘Well had thrown caution to the wind in an attempt to chase the tie, Theofanis Gekas swept in a half-volley on 72 minutes to give the Spaniards a 3-0 aggregate lead and effectively kill the game. It stayed that way, allowing the Spaniards to progress to the group stages of the competition.

    McCall opted to make two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with St Mirren on Sunday. Jonathan Page and Stuart Carswell both started in place of the suspended Shaun Hutchinson with Chris Humphrey forced to accept a place amongst the substitutes.

    ‘Well always faced an uphill task after going down 0-2 at Fir Park last Thursday night. The job was made even harder with a crippling injury and suspension list which made for a very young starting eleven; six players under the age of 21 including four teenagers.

    In contrast, the Spaniards were packed full of experience with the likes of Ballesteros, JuanFran and forming part of the defensive unit.

    But it was McCall’s men who produced a mature display against the La Liga side, matching the hosts for much of the opening 45 minutes and creating the best chances.

    ‘Well fans would have dared to dream when the visitors had the ball in the net inside three minutes; Higdon escaped his marker to head home Steven Hetherington’s free-kick. However, the assistant referee was early with his flag and TV replays show it was a correct call from the French official.

    Another Hetherington free-kick shortly after produced another free header, but Page steered the ball wide from the penalty spot. It was a glorious chance for the young defender as the home side nervously negotiated the opening exchanges.

    Keith Lasley got two shots on target, none of which really forced Navas into serious action, while Levante’s Jose Barkero blasted a stinging long-range strike wide and goal-getter from the first leg Juanlu saw his curling effort drop a yard wide of Randolph’s post.

    Motherwell hearts were in mouths just after the half-hour when Stevie Hammell over-cooked a pass at Page along the back line. The former Portsmouth centre-back, after initially chesting the ball down, then underhit his attempted header back towards Randolph.

    Juanlu intercepted but shot wide from 18 yards with only the keeper to beat.

    Hammell almost atoned for that error a minute later when, after a surging forward run, smashed a 30-yard shot that zipped narrowly wide of the right hand post.

    It was the last action of an otherwise positive first period for the Fir Parkers but Levante burst out the traps after the break and threatened when JuanFran’s cross found Juanlu, but Randolph got down brilliantly to stop his header, which had taken a slight deflection off the marking Page.

    The Republic of Ireland International made another great block on the hour, blocking from El Zahr after the Moroccan had run on to Barkero’s pass through the middle of Page and Hammell.

    El Zahr missed another great chance, shooting over after turning inside Hammell in the penalty box.

    A goal for ‘Well might have gave the hosts something to think about in the closing but Levante made their second-half possession count.

    Herrero Michel was introduced in place of the otherwise ineffectual Bakero and his movement caused problems for the Steelmen rearguard. It was his run that opened up space for Juanlu on the left wing and Gekas got in front of Adam Cummins to steer the cross inside Randolph’s near post from six yards.

    ‘Well battled for the remainder of the game and could, and probably should have squared the game in the dying seconds. Antiguan international Zaine Francis-Angol, who had been introduced in place of Stevie Hammell, whipped in a tantalizing cross that bamboozled the home defence. Humphrey nipped in ahead of the otherwise excellent JuanFran but could only steer his close-range shot over the bar.

    Motherwell are out but didn’t disgrace themselves in any Euro matches this campaign. The standard of both Panathinaikos and Levante proved the undoing but an exceptionally young squad will have gained invaluable experience which will hopefully percolate into the current season.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Alastair Reilly at Ciutat de València

    FULL TIME: Levante 1 – 0 Motherwell. Gekas with the only goal of the night sends Levante through.

    93mins: Great chance there for a consolation goal! Francis-Angol crosses in right in front of goal. Humphrey meets it but skies over.

    91mins: Pallardo tries his luck from 30 yards. He’s unlucky as it curls just over the bar.

    90mins: Into added on time now.

    89mins: 2 minutes left of Motherwell’s European tour for this season. Hopefully we’re back bigger and better next season!

    87mins: Michel floats a ball into the back post. Could have dropped in but Page heads clear.

    85mins: 5 minutes left and the ‘Well fans are on their feet chanting again. They’ve been fantastic tonight.

    80mins: Stat of the night: The ‘Well side on the field right now has an average age of 20.45 years.

    79mins: Levante Sub: Iborra off for Pallardo

    75mins: Levante sub – Rodas on for Ballesteros

    74mins: Motherwell Sub: Hammell off for Francis-Angol

    73mins: GOAL: Gekas converts Juanlu’s cross at the front post.

    69mins: El Zhar should have burst the net there. He chopped inside Hammell and only had Randolph to beat. Somehow scoops over from 12 yards.

    67mins: Motherwell subs: McHugh and Humphrey on for Ojamaa and Carswell.

    63mins: uncertainty in the Levante defence. Ojamaa pressing Ballesteros who pokes it back to Navas. He slices clear for a throw.

    61mins: Randolph to the rescue! El Zhar nicks in and is clear through but as he shoots, Randolph gets enough on it with his foot to divert wide.

    58mins: Frustration for Motherwell as Carswell appeared to be hacked down by Diop but ref waves play on.

    56mins: It’s delivered low by Hetherington and El Zhar clears.

    56mins: Free-kick in a great position for Motherwell. Ballasteros body-checking Ojamaa.

    52mins: Great hands from the big man. Levante on top so far this half.

    51mins: Great save from Randolph! Juanlu whips it in and Gekas meets it with a bullet header which deflects off Cummins.

    45mins: Barkero and Gekas get us under way for the second half.

    HT: Teams are back out. Who knows what could happen if we can nick that first goal….

    45mins: HALF-TIME – Levante 0 – 0 Motherwell

    43mins: Gekas inches away from being slid straight through. Thankfully Page is there with a last-ditch slide tackle and clears the danger.

    42mins: Into the closing minutes of the first half. Motherwell acquitting themselves admirably against their La Liga opponents.

    35mins: Game opening up. Carswell does brilliantly to clear from Barkero after a great jinking run.

    33mins: Up the other end, Hammell springs Navas into action with a 30 yard drive. A fraction wide from Motherwell’s number 3.

    32mins: A let off. Page tries to head back to Randolph but falls well short. Juanlu picks up but slides it just past when goal looked certain

    28mins: Twice in as many minutes, Ojamaa has tried to thread the ball through to Murphy. Very nearly succeeded on both occasions

    24mins: Great chance for Levante. Juanlu cuts in on his weaker foot and curls beautifully towards the back post. Flashes just past.

    22mins: Free-kick 10 yards inside their half see’s the ball land at Murphy’s feet. He squares to Lasley whose shot is straight at ‘keeper.

    21mins: Higdon’s header is blocked to Lasley whose own effort from 20 yards is straight at Navas.

    20mins: Great run from Murphy wins our first corner

    19mins: Ojamaa gets to byline but his cross is just not powerful enough to reach Murphy at the back post and Navas mops up.

    17mins: Game is starting to slow down. Decent spell of possession there for ‘Well without any end product.

    11mins: After two good early chances for The Steelmen, Levante are now starting to boss the game. A succession of corners and crosses.

    10mins: El Zhar tried to be a bit too clever there. They had a chance to drive at ‘Well but he thankfully opts to slide it through to nobody.

    9mins: Half chance for Gekas again. This time with a header from a Barkero cross. Doesn’t trouble Randolph though.

    7mins: First corner of the match for Levante. Barkero delivers….Higdon batters it clear.

    5mins: Another good chance for ‘Well there. Hetherington floats in a free-kick and Page peels off his man to win the header. Well past the post though.

    4mins: Bit of a heart-stopping moment as Gekas finds himself 12 yards out but sclaffs the ball well wide.

    2mins: And the ball is in the net! Unfortunately it’s offside as Higdon nods home. Positive signs though!

    2mins: Hard tackle on Carswell wins ‘Well a free kick 35 yards from goal in a dangerous position.

    1min: And the game is under way. Murphy and Lasley kick off.

    Kick-off: The first half in now underway. ‘Mon the ‘Well!


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “We’ve had three good European performances. I was disappointed with the home one against Levante, we could have done better.

    “I’ll have to see Michael’s goal again, I don’t think he was offside.

    “We should have scored late on and that would have been nice for the fans. But I thought the fans were outstanding and the players were terrific, and they both lifted each other at times.”

    Levante U.D. manager Juan Ignacio Martinez:

    Coming Soon…


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    TV: McCall cautiously optimistic

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall admits he will have to be more cautious in his approach to tonight’s match that he perhaps would want.

    The Steelmen are missing a number of senior players for the return leg which will be played in the boiling Levante head this evening.

    That said, the Fir Park boss still intends to go with two up-front in search of netting that all important first goal.

    “Had personnel being different we might have approached the game slightly different,” he said.

    “We are without Hutchinson, Ramsden and Hateley – three of what you would probably call our first-choice defenders. Then you add Nicky Law and we are missing a fair deal of experience.

    “I look at the match and we obviously need to be careful. We have a lot of young players in the squad and sure, people might expect us to go gung-ho and forget the consequences, but we need to protect those players or it wouldn’t be this great experience people are talking about.

    “That said, we’ll still go with two up in search of the first goal and hopefully we will but on a performance that our fans and people can be proud.”